If you are a burgeoning entrepreneur who is interested in attracting investors to your latest venture, you need more than just a great idea and a solid business plan. You also need those intangibles that separate the mediocre from the excellent. After all, if you want people to believe in your company, they need to believe in you first. Here are a few attributes you should work on developing if you ever want to add CEO to your resume.
You need to have character
While a certain amount of ruthlessness is required to lead, you also need to prove yourself to be an individual of outstanding character if you want to lead a company. As this Forbes article so eloquently lays out, ambitious entrepreneurs need to demonstrate to investors that they possess a high level of personal responsibility, integrity and empathy. These characteristics are not intrinsic to one’s ethnic, social or religious background, but they are universally found in history’s greatest leaders.
Know what you’re talking about
At the end of the day, ideas are a dime a dozen. If you walk into a meeting with investors who have given years of their lives to the industry you want to revolutionize, you had better know what you’re talking about. Professionals have the uncanny ability to sniff out posers with remarkable speed. You have to know how to explain not just why your idea is special, but how it fills a need that isn’t being met right now. As this LinkedIn piece notes, entrepreneurs who lack a clear and compelling vision don’t get funded.
Be willing to listen
If you’re lucky enough to get a meeting with a successful investor who has extensive experience in your industry, ask for some advice. This Entrepreneur post hits the nail on the head, advising not to waste an opportunity to get some valuable input on how to make your company a little better. It doesn’t matter if you give a pitch so good it would have made Don Draper give a standing ovation, or if you completely bombed out, be willing to listen. Your potential investors will appreciate the ego stroke and the fact that you realize you don’t know everything.
Know your weaknesses
Mark Zuckerberg may have become a billionaire when he was 23, but Facebook took off before the Great Recession hit. These days, angel investors and venture capitalists are not as keen on backing an untested young prodigy as they once were. If you haven’t put in at least a solid decade in your field, you need to walk into your investors meeting with someone on your team who has. As you get further along in the process of building your company, you’re going to need someone in your corner who has a little institutional memory and professional seasoning anyway.
This article was written by Mario McKellop of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.